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Uncovering the Rise of AI-Powered Scams Targeting Tax Refunds

Here's how you can stay safe and safeguard your wallets.
Cover Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by  Stock Birken
Cover Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Stock Birken

As the digital world continues to evolve, so do the tricks of cybercriminals seeking to exploit people for financial gain. The latest target of the scammers is tax refunds as it is a great opportunity for them to dupe innocent taxpayers. The scammers leverage the AI tools which makes their schemes formulation and accomplishment easy. With the fresh tax season approaching, there's a looming risk of scammers trying to take refunds that should go to honest taxpayers. The IRS is constantly warning people to stay safe amidst these scams.

Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Bermix Studio
Image Source: Unsplash|Photo by Bermix Studio

Before the wide availability of the internet to the masses personal information was relatively safe. But now, almost all confidential information can be easily accessed by scammers. These criminals collect details of victims like, pictures, location, bank details, and other personal data. How do they get this? The scammers can retrieve these details online, through legal or illegal databases, or by tricking you through phone calls, emails, or messages. Once they have access to sufficient data they file a fake ITR in your name to get the refunds, if any, and disappear leaving no trails. With the help of AI, scammers can create these fake documents in a short time and use more advanced methods to get around the security measures of the IRS and accounting firms.


The Internal Revenue System (IRS) revealed that in 2023, they received 294138 complaints concerning identity theft and flagged over one million tax returns as fraud cases. Ari Jacoby, founder and CEO of cybersecurity firm Deduce told Axios, "Tax identity fraud is a great crime because so many tax refund dollars are transacted and it's harder to spot suspicious behavior with a once-per-year transaction".

Victims blame the government for not imposing strict laws to protect the public's privacy. IRS is also criticized for not educating their department on the correct usage of AI and not spending enough on learning technology. Instead, there are accusations that they're using money from the Inflation Reduction Act to upgrade their computers and check more closely on big companies that have over $10 billion in assets. On the other hand, the U.S. Treasury leveraged the AI systems to discover the source of $375 million in fake transactions in 2023. These included fake checks, social security payments, and tax refunds, as per Treasury Deputy Secretary, Wally Adeyemo.


With the emergence of the tax refund scam and the tax filings approaching, the IRS is more concerned about making its taxpayers aware. Hence, they have suggested some of the ways that can help dodge these scam calls:

1. Don't wait for the deadline to file your taxes as it creates panic and people get vulnerable to scams.

2. Avail of the option to direct deposit in cases you are eligible for a tax refund.

3. Open an IRS account online to stop scammers from filing returns in your name.

4. If you receive any call, text, or email impersonating it to be from the IRS, don't trust it. The IRS in such cases communicates through official mail IDs.

5. Always call or mail the IRS if you receive any message that you believe is suspicious.